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Big Engine-Small Package: 1969 Chevrolet Nova SS396

Some would subscribe to the theory that if enough is just right, then too much is perfect! Take Chevrolet’s compact Chevy II/Nova. In the mid-sixties, it developed some real hair with high-powered small-block engines. In’68, an all-new platform, shared with the Camaro, was implemented, and what do you know, it could accommodate a Mark IV big-block engine. The fun lasted through ’70 and for your review today, we have a 1969 example that looks pretty darn good. It’s located in Pottstown, Pennsylvania and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $28,005 with the reserve not yet met.

Image Courtesy of GM

Some interesting things occurred with the 1969 Nova SS. Sports Car Market reports that a total of 17,564 were assembled that year. The standard engine was a 300 gross HP, 350 CI V8. And if you cruise the Nova sales brochure for that year, that’s the only SS powerplant listed. I guess not wanting to focus too much attention on their sporting intentions, and GM’s silly rules about vehicles having to have a minimum of ten lbs. of curb weight per gross HP may have had something to do with the brochure omission. As it turns out, 7,209 Novas were built in ’69 with the 396 Turbo-Jet big-block and 5,262 of those were the top gorilla 375 HP version known as RPO L78. The remainder were the more staid RPO L34 350 gross HP variety.

As is often the case, this rarer 350 HP version is minus its original engine. The seller adds, “I was told the original motor went bad in the early ’90s, so they put a 396 back in it using the factory 69 – 396 heads and intake“. regardless, he states, “The best part about the car is how it drives, no excuses and is very reliable. The 4-speed shifts perfect, no noises at all, the rear is perfect and you can drive it all day and have no issues“. It’s fitted with a 4.10 final drive, which is seriously steep for a “passenger” version big-block motor, so that pretty well removes this Nova from comfortable cruising duty but the straight-line run will probably put you in the back seat.

The seller mentions some paint imperfections but this Chevy shows really well – silver is an extremely forgiving shade. The black vinyl top looks like it’s in excellent shape and the Magnum style wheels (same as used on the Chevelle) were a Nova SS option in ’69. There are images of the underside included and it shows as being exceptionally clean. The listing further states, “always garaged in the Pittsburgh Pa area and the undercarriage and body show it, rock solid car“. If this is life long western Pennsylvania car, it must have been properly stored and avoided winter driving – the winter climate there can be sheet metal and floor pan disastrous.

The interior is as splendid as the exterior. Included are optional black vinyl-covered strato-bucket seats with a center consolette featuring angled engine gauges. Also included are an in-dash tachometer and an original Delco radio. The mileage recording is 51K miles and the seller claims that he has a 1994 title that authenticates the mileage.

So, what’s this hot little Chevy need? Nothing, other than a new owner, as near as I can tell. No idea what the reserve is but someone’s going to get a very clean example of too much being perfect, right?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    How nice is that one? Wow!

    Like 13
  2. Rw

    Wow very worth some coin, hope those Chinese cobra tires don’t blowout, just saying.

    Like 5
    • Chester Simmons

      I had some American made Firestones in the 70’s that blew out…

      Like 7
    • 19sixty5 Member

      Cooper’s are made in Ohio, Mississippi and Arkansas. Ohio and Arkansas produce both passenger and light truck tires. Cooper’s plant in Mississippi only manufactures passenger tires. That being said, I don’t have any Coopers on my cars, I run BFG Radial TA’s on most of my cars. Nice Nova though!

      Like 6
  3. Troy s

    How ’bout that, a real factory built thrill machine! And with those gears and 4 speed transmission it’s only for those of us who enjoy all the mechanical mayhem over a radio. She’s worth some coin for sure but that’s not my interest in these rebellious rides,
    Looks real good too, almost too clean, ha!

    Like 4
  4. Ken

    Why do people ask top dollar for a redo

    Like 3
  5. Dave August

    Where in western PA? Very interested!

    Like 2
    • Lynn Dockey Member

      Pottstown is close to Philly.

      Like 1
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      The car, according to the seller, lived its life in the Pittsburgh (western) area but it is for sale in Pottstown, which is in eastern PA.


      Like 2
      • Lynn Dockey Member

        40 miles from philly

        Like 2
  6. Karl

    One of the nicest I have seen in a long time, beautiful car!

    Like 5

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